Re: EPrints, DSpace or ESpace? Stevan Harnad 13 Jan 2004 01:52 UTC

Peter Suber reported the following in Open Access News

    "Outsell has released 13
    predictions for the information content industry in 2004.

    "Here's prediction #6: "The Open Access movement in scholarly and
    scientific publications will gain legitimacy."

    "In a separate, downloadable report to accompany the predictions, Outsell
    says this about open access (p. 9): "The Open Access movement
    in scholarly and scientific publications will gain legitimacy as
    it transforms from a loose collection of disjointed initiatives
    into a new model backed by major universities and institutions
    worldwide....Academic institutions and the scholarly publishing
    world have been at loggerheads for years over the increasing cost
    of journal subscriptions. The irony is that most scholarly content
    is created by individuals employed by universities, who are then
    required to pay for it again in the form of published works. The new
    Public Library of Science is only the most prominent in a series of
    open-access challenges to the scholarly publishing industry, which
    finds itself in a real crisis situation as users and the organizations
    they work for start to revolt. As steam gathers under institutional
    archiving initiatives like DSpace, the infrastructure will be in
    place to support peer-to-peer from the get-go. Where there is a will,
    there is a way, and technology is providing the 'way' to enable
    creative new solutions for distribution, access, and sharing
    of scholarly content. Watch for even more radical and flexible
    knowledge-sharing initiatives in this space that will increasingly
    call into question the structure of an entire publishing sector."

I only want to add that if steam is to gather under institutional
archiving initiatives "like DSpace" then they need to get their act
together and focus it specifically on the institutional self-archiving
of peer-reviewed research output. Right now, DSpace, like EPrints,
offers software, but unlike EPrints, DSpace offers absolutely no guidance
or focus on what the software should be used for (i.e., how it is that
institutions should go about designing and implementing a self-archiving

"Archiving" is a big word, and means (far too) many things to (too)
many people. Having MIT behind the self-archiving movement looked
promising initially, but until and unless they get it into focus, DSpace
will just continue to be a magnet for software downloads that generate
everything except open-access peer-reviewed research output!

(Having said that, I have to add that the EPrints archives so far
are mostly near-empty too:
125 archives containing only 33,259 papers still averages only 250
papers per archive -- which is a far cry from each institution's annual
peer-reviewed research article output! And in reality, even this is
misleading, as there are a few EPrints archives with a lot of output
and most of the rest with far less than 250! So even the "focussed"
approach could stand to be more forceful!)

This is not to say that open-access publishing (the "golden road" to
open access) is doing any better! It is in fact providing far *less"
open access annually than the "green" road of self-archiving (about one
third as much). But it is at least operating nearer capacity (1000 out
of 24,000 journals is about 5%). Self-archiving
could be providing the other 95% already. But the research community
is passively waiting for imminent radical transitions to the golden
publishing model -- they are alas not happening: the actual data are
nothing like the chatter -- instead of taking matters into their own
hands and providing open access overnight by self-archiving.

What is needed is some vision, guidance and leadership: and a focused
institutional open-access provision policy. That's not going to come
from Outsell's financial prognostications.

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
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Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.